I am not attempting to light the torch extinguished in 2002 when that former Charivari finally shuttered its doors–to scale the gilded bowl that cradles the wick is a task far beyond my means or ambitions. You know what I’m talking about–Punch magazine, that fun-house mirror that used cartoons to reveal our absurdities and hypocrisies and cream-pied the faces of the powers–that–be. Punch was originally subtitled The London Charivari after the then popular Parisian magazine, Charivari. That was back in 1841 when banging on kettles and otherwise serenading unpopular people with dissonant and discordant music may or may not have been a popular paste-time, I have no idea. Either way, the word “charivari” rang true enough to put it on a masthead.
It’s not my habit to dwell in the distant past, and I’m not particularly influenced by the style, tone or substance of the behemoth and its mother. And I’m not a cartoonist of any stripe, so that tie-in is out the window. But I salute the artist and writers who used humor and satire, stretching, twisting and magnifying truths for their readers to see, laugh and swallow. And I toast the editors of those earlier journals for their commitment to quality in art and writing. And last, but not least, I’m appropriating a word that makes me think of dusty carnivals with their cacophony of rusting colors, nostalgia for a dream, and a new dream. “Charivari,” defined is in part “a babel of noise.” And what else is a blog?